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A feral cat, a loaf of bread and an execution . . .

Cat in the Hat Barn

A couple of months ago I posted the story of my family’s brief attempt at living life on a farm in Mississippi in a three-room house with no bathrooms, no electricity and no running water. Winter was kept at bay by two fireplaces that heated the combination living room and bedroom and a separate bedroom. Added to those two rooms were the combination kitchen and dining area and a lean-to intended for storage, primarily for stove and fireplace wood and livestock feed. Click here to read the details—it’s well worth the read, featuring tales of cotton picking, sexual abuse of chickens, killing twin fox terriers and threatening runaway children with a shotgun.

This posting is about an incident on the farm that featured a feral tomcat. One evening at dusk my stepfather, knowing that I longed for a pet, came in from the barn and told me there was a wild cat in the barn and that if I could catch him I could keep him for a pet. Although I was exultant at the thought of having a pet, I approached the barn with more than a modicum of apprehension—I had learned earlier that his promises should not be taken literally, but with a grain of salt.

One Saturday soon after we moved to the farm he promised to bring me a present from town. I felt sure that it would be a bicycle, but it turned out to be a wheelbarrow, to be used to clean stables and other indelicate and backbreaking activities. I spent that Saturday afternoon shoveling you-know-what out of long-neglected barn stalls and hauling the loads to our garden and to what my stepfather called his horse pasture, although we didn’t have any horses. Also one year near Christmas time he promised to bring my sister and me dogs as Christmas presents—he gave her a collie and me a Pekingese—hers decorated an ashtray and mine was a leaded doorstop. Read the full story here.

I was surprised to find an actual wild feral cat in the barn, hiding out among the hay bales and equipment stored in the barn’s loft. Equipped—armed, actually—with nothing more than a flashlight with weak batteries, I finally cornered the cat, a multicolored tomcat with a ferocious temper. I caught him after many tries, each of which added to the plethora of scratches he inscribed on my hands and arms. I tried to stuff him in a burlap bag but finally just wrapped it around him and made a triumphant return to the house. The hardest part of that return was going down the ladder from the barn loft using only one hand, with the other holding firm to some fifteen pounds of wriggling screeching tomcat.

The farm included a skid-mounted store fronted by a single gas pump, a dinosaur mechanism operated by first pumping fuel from the underground tank with a hand pump into a glass reservoir with gallon marks and then using gravity to lower the required number of gallons into a vehicle’s tank.

The little store measured some 12 by thirty feet and was stocked by those items that country folks needed to replace between visits to markets in the city, items such as bread, cigarettes, cigars, snuff, candies, thread, needles, lard, sugar, flour and various canned goods. The store was infested with rats, and my stepfather told me to close the cat up in the store and it would take care of the rats. That sounded plausible to me as a temporary measure, and then I would begin a program to domesticate my new wild pet.

It was not to be. That cat ate an entire loaf of bread the first night, leaving only the plastic wrapper. Store-bought bakery bread came in one-pound loaves only in those days—today’s one and one-half pound loaves had not yet been developed.

My stepfather indicated that he understood the cat’s depredations, considering that he had been in the woods with only bugs and field mice for sustenance, and then only if he could catch them. He told me to catch the cat and cage him, then put him in the store again in the evening. Having filled up on a full loaf of bread, the cat’s movements were slowed down, and that feeling coupled with his belief that he had found a cat’s Shangri-La made him easy to corner and catch. That day happened to be a Saturday, and at dusk I locked him in the store.

The store was closed on Sundays, and my stepfather awakened to start his usual morning with a few snifters of bourbon before breakfast, a practice that continued following breakfast, and in mid-morning we opened the store’s door and the cat catapulted out—did you get that? He catapulted out and kept going, quickly disappearing under the house some one hundred feet or so from the store.

The evidence was spread all over the floor near the bread shelves. A full pound loaf was a bit too much for him this time, and several slices were scattered about, some whole and some shredded in various stages of having been eaten.

My stepfather voiced numerous epithets, loudly and earnestly and not one of them was anything similar to “That darn cat!” No, they were not gentle, and all contained words and threats not really suitable for my young ears—not that I hadn’t heard them before, of course—and all seemed to be centered on the likely untimely demise of the cat.

And so it came to pass. My stepfather raced—staggered, actually—to the house and retrieved his 16-gage shotgun from its stance against the wall in the corner nearest to his side of the bed he shared with my mother in the combination living room/bed room. The shotgun was kept fully loaded with a live shell in the chamber, as was the military .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol he kept on a bedside stand, again on his side of the bed.

The house was built on piers that provided a substantial crawl space underneath. The shooter kneeled, peered under the house and fired one shot from the shotgun. I soon learned that the cat had been outlined against the base of the brick fireplace when the buckshot took his life.

I learned that because I was tasked to bring out the remains and dispose of them properly. It was not an easy task because numerous particles had been splattered against the bricks, but I managed to clean up everything, to not leave anything that might cause unsavory odors on hot days.

There is a story about Abraham Lincoln that I would like to tell now. It seems that some unruly urchins had inserted dynamite into a certain orifice of a stray dog and then lighted the fuse. Abe was witness to the explosion and he commented at the time that, Well, that dog won’t ever amount to anything now—at least anyway not as a dog.

That story is probably apocryphal but it serves to showcase Lincoln’s sense of humor and perhaps his belief in an afterlife, perhaps even in reincarnation. Who knows? Could be!

I know that my erstwhile potential pet, that feral feline, that thief of baked goods and consumer of the same never amounted to anything else, at least not on earth and not as a cat. And as regards reincarnation, I and my family have had several cats over the years, and I cannot discount the possibility that one or more of them could have been reincarnations of that wild cat I rescued from a life in the woods and sentenced him to be executed, to die an untimely and undignified death for no other reason than his hunger and my drunken stepfather’s temper.

That was as close as I came to having a pet while I lived with my stepfather. I did come close another time when I saw a speeding car hit a black-and-tan hound dog on the road some distance from our house. I raced to him to see if he was alive, and finding him inert but breathing I carried him back to the house.

That was no easy task—that darn hound was full grown and weighed almost as much as I did. I stretched him out on the front porch and asked my mother if I could take care of him and keep him if he lived. She assented but only after considerable thought, saying that he was probably a working dog and that my stepfather would want to keep him for hunting. We scrounged around for something to use as a bed, and with an old quilt in my arms I returned to the front porch.

The dog was gone. I looked around the yard and then glanced up the graveled road where he had been hit, and there he was, going full-tilt in the same direction he had been going when the car hit him, going at full speed without a trace of a limp, kicking up gravel with every stride.

For a moment I felt anger, not for the driver that had hit him, but for the dog that fooled me and made me stagger a considerable distance to get him to the house, then forced me to convince my mother to let me nurse him and keep him. Yep, I really took it as a personal affront that he had recovered so nicely and thus denied me an opportunity to nurse him back to good health and keep him for a pet.

My anger was brief, however—I realized that had I kept him and returned him to good health and he turned out to not be a working dog, a dog that would not contribute in some way to the family larder, he would eventually suffer the same fate suffered by the two fox terriers and the wild cat—splattered, perhaps, all over the brick fireplace and at that thought I breathed a sigh of relief.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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A rant from Arizona . . .

I received the following e-mail just over a year ago from a friend in Arizona, a friend that I have never met but a friend nevertheless. Although written one year ago, his analysis of our relationship with Mexico is accurate and is mirrored by current events.

Witness the current situation in Arizona, a sovereign state with all the rights of a sovereign state, rights guaranteed by our constitution—its rights are being trampled by those that enter our country in violation of federal law, and their illegal actions are blatantly supported and encouraged by our present administration. This photo is that of the Arizona governor following a meeting with President Obama—I have little hope that their meeting will affect the president’s stand on the rights of Arizona to try to stem the tide of illegal aliens flowing across the borders of her state.

As a nation and as a people, we are under constant attack by invaders from the south, and we need to wake up and smell the coffee. Or should I say café, perhaps?

This is my friend’s e-mail, presented exactly as I received it:

Hey, BD, (I know who you are…)

I know you have enjoyed my rants in the past. Cindy always asks if I sent something to you that I sent to her. This time I can say, “yes.”

This runs long. You may need coffee or an intermission so you can go get popcorn and some jujubees. If you make it all the way through you can get a prize at the end: high blood pressure.

This is his analysis of our relationship with Mexico:

Mexican illegal alien invaders represent the U.S. State Department’s elephant in the room. They all know he’s there but nobody wants to talk about what it means.

As home to the unwanted illegal alien invader, the United States of America is Mexico’s only real economic and political relief-valve. By allowing the 20 to 30 million illegal alien invaders into the United States, Mexico gains in a multitude of ways. As the illegal alien invader progresses through life in Estados Unidos, the benefits multiply.

Firstly, by breaching our borders and crossing from citizen of Mexico to criminal of the United States, each illegal alien invader voluntarily removes himself or herself from the unemployed Mexican workforce. The levels of unemployment, illiteracy (they are not just unable to read and write English, they cannot read and write Mexican) and homegrown crime in Mexico are at crisis proportions. The lack of a middle class and the absence of protections for private property (the Mexican government will rob everyone of their property if it is shown to have value), and the collection of real economic power in the hands of the political elite have assured a national poverty rate that must be an embarrassment to anyone who defends the criminal government in Mexico City.

Every time a Mexican crosses the border into the United States, Mexico City breathes a sigh of relief. This represents one more mouth they do not have to feed, one more voice that will not shout its disapproval, and one more set of hands that will not fight against the police/drug-lord/federal corruption triumvirate of organized crime in Mexico. Everyone in Mexico is relieved as each illegal alien invader leaves Mexico.

Secondly, the majority of illegal alien invaders will find work in the United States and they will start the transfer of wealth from the United States to their meager homes in the Mexican interior. Like sticking a tube in our national economic artery, this economic “bleeding” parasitically consumes U.S. Dollars that should be used internally and sends them into Mexico. These transfers are Mexico’s second largest economic benefit, directly behind PEMEX, the nationalized (can you say, “Maxine Waters”) Mexican petroleum company. Those transfers are estimated to be worth $20 billion annually.

It was, perhaps, Milton Friedman who showed how a dollar, earned in a community, would be cycled through that same community seven times, on average. Earning the dollar at the plant, a worker would spend it at the butcher, who would spend it at the grocer, who would spend it at the gas pump. And on it goes until that dollar would be spent outside of the community and the cycle would continue. Whether it was Dr. Friedman or another economist, the principle is easy to understand.

It is just as easy to understand that a wire transfer of an estimated $20 billion would have an equivalent impact of the loss of over $140 billion to the communities where illegal alien invaders sucked the economic life-blood from one nation and transported it to another. In this way, the appearance of cheap illegal alien invader wages must be multiplied to account for the total loss of local currency. It is, therefore, possible that a $20/hour wage translates to a cost of $140/hour.

Thirdly, the unaccounted costs of welfare, free services (especially for health care) and education have been estimated by border states for years.  Now, states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania are trying to accrue some tab on these costs as their expenses grow ever higher at the state capitol and the taxpayer burden is becoming painful. These are costs duly attributable to the Mexico City government, not any local or state or federal government in the United States. Yet, each dollar expended on the welfare and benefit of an illegal alien invader is a dollar (10.325 pesos) that is not a necessary expenditure in Mexico City. Those 10.325 pesos go directly into the pockets of the ruling elite or into the graft and corruption machine that fuels the drug cartels that operate with impunity inside Mexico.

Fourthly, the self-protective imprisonment of the felonious criminal Mexican who walked across the United States border with his petty criminal amigo is like the icing on the Mexico City cake. It is estimated that almost 30 percent of those incarcerated in federal and many state prisons are illegal alien invaders who have come here to commit their crimes.

The Mexican government could not be given a better present. Imagine having the most disruptive and violent criminals removed from the Mexican streets, jailed and fed, and even protected somewhere else, and the government of Mexico doesn’t have to pay a dime. The estimated federal and local cost of incarceration for one year is about $1 billion. There is no way to estimate the loss of property through crime, the loss of life because of murderous or drunken and irresponsible actions by these same illegal alien invaders for whom we pay an annual $1 billion to incarcerate, just to keep them away from our streets (because if we deport them, they’ll just come back).

With a porous border, what can be done? Almost nothing. Sheriffs across the United States, and some local police forces have decided to aggressively pursue illegal alien invaders in their jurisdictions and deport them or get them out of town. This is the illegal alien invader shell game. The only real cure is a complete, forceful, and physically closed border with Mexico.

What will we, the United States, promote by closing the border and aggressively campaigning to keep new invaders out?

Mexico does not have a historically stable government. The political and economic infrastructure is brittle, and incapable of absorbing the additional insult now borne by the United States in our ineffectual remedies to the constant stream of illegal alien invasion. Stability for the Mexican government, then, depends on the constant leak of their national woes northward. Plugging that leak means all Mexico’s problems remain inside Mexico.

We will be sealing the pressure lid on the gently simmering economic and political bean pot that is Mexico. The combination of an overnight increase in unemployment, increase in social services load (while Mexico City provides none, the community must), the loss of wire transfers, and the criminal costs will slowly or quickly bring the nation to an explosive internal pressure. We would assure, if not outright condemn, the government in Mexico City to an ugly, bloody, civil war.

Unlike our own civil war where the Union had not succeeded in disarming the southern states prior to acts of aggression, the only segments of the Mexican population armed sufficiently to affect an effective civil war are the military (who would love more power) and the drug cartels (who are tired of sharing profits and benefits of the drug trade with their sycophantic governmental pet Chihuahuas).

Winners of a Mexican Civil War would either be the cruel and dangerous military or the cruel, dangerous, and connected drug king-pins.

The United States’ only alternative would be to line these already-closed southern borders with thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of troops, ready to protect the southern states when the inevitable civil war erupts. Indeed, the best, most secure option is to wait for the first sign of conflict and invade the nation Mexico with all our military forces, not stopping until we ride into Mexico City.

And unlike the previous failures after the Mexican American wars, the United States Congress and its military will only find peace and a lasting solution to the problems created by Mexican governmental and military corruption if the United States accepts unconditional surrender and applies the same policies toward Mexico that we did after defeating Japan and Germany in the Second World War.

The war in Iraq was triggered by national security, but extended by an altruistic intention to deliver a democratic future to a people who have never known it. What makes Iraq such a precious ally and commodity that we would shed our blood in their favor when we would not do the same for ourselves and our Mexican neighbor?

The third option, and one that strikes at the very heart of socialism in our own United States, is to create working opportunities for Mexicans while closing the spigot of social and welfare services to these immigrant workers. This is, in effect, the bracero program for the 21st century.

Amnesty is a travesty. No immigrant worker program can offer or entice workers with amnesty. Rather, the workers want work and the United States has an appetite for laborers. Giving companies liberty to recruit and transport workers, while granting ICE and the State Department extraordinary latitude in rejecting and policing these laborers could have a positive effect on both sides of the border.

The challenges of this approach includes the following:

There can be no public services or resources benefit to any temporary Mexican worker.

ICE, local authorities, and the sponsoring company must be able to return the Mexican worker without any process, except those that may involve criminal justice charges.

Direct family members could be allowed to join the worker, but multiple issues of education and health must be addressed before this is allowed.

Wire transfers of earnings must be limited, or outright denied as part of this program. The United States is not an economic donor for tyrannies.

The sponsor company must bear all financial and other burden for the taxes, health care, education, transportation, housing, or immigration process.

The community must have some input regarding the good stewardship of the companies participating in this program: are they working for the benefit of the community; are they fair and just toward both workers and the community; are they complying with all appropriate immigration requirements; etc?

Automatically granting citizenship to persons born within the borders of the United States, as specified in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, must be addressed. Both those “anchor babies” already born to illegal alien invaders inside the United States and any future children born to Mexican workers participating in any work program must be denied United States citizenship. This will require a Constitutional Convention and further defining this one section of the 14th amendment to affect those children born to citizens of countries other than the United States.

The first two immigration solutions available to the United States with regard to Mexico are both frightening. The first is invasion and slow poisoning by an illiterate, violent, consuming, foreign force. The second is to precipitate and then capitalize on a bloody civil war in Mexico.

The first choice relegates the United States to a state of subjugation under the invader. The second, while more immediately costly and painful, retains our national and individual sovereignty and creates a democratic ally to the south.

The third solution requires a federal and state government dedicated primarily to the security and sovereignty of the United States and the US citizen. This has not been evidenced in the recent past. All indicators point to a federal and to state governments that seek political expediency, appeasement of Mexican tyrants, expansion of amnesty, and the destruction of the southern border. For this reason, the third solution should only be attempted if there is a fundamental shift toward border security in the measurable goals of our government.

One clear and measurable goal would be to change the 14th Amendment. This would demonstrate the right attitude by our federal representatives. Otherwise, any program will be nothing more than some flavor of capitulation to Mexico or treason to the Constitution and to the citizens of the United States.

To sum up: our choices with regard to Mexico are:

1—Slow Poison.

2—War.

3—Foxes in the henhouse.

It’s a tough choice. Can I have “none of the above?”

That ends A Rant from Arizona—what follows is my personal postcript:

The photo below shows people crossing from Mexico to the United States with a raft, usually consisting of inflated inner tubes—does anyone remember inner tubes?—loaded with plastic bags filled with contraband. Take it from one that has seen this many times. I spent 12 years on the Texas/Mexico border as a U.S. Customs inspector and supevisor. My first assignment was at the port of Progreso, a crossing point located ten miles from the city of Weslaco in the lower Rio Grande Valley. More than once, in the wee small hours of the morning, I have been on the bridge that spans the river between the port of entry and the Mexican town of Las Flores—Nuevo Progresso—and watched similar flotillas passing under the bridge, staffed with illegal aliens drifting and paddling towards a bend in the river that would take them to the U.S. side, along with their load of contraband.

When I hailed the smugglers they cheerfully waved and said things such as Buenos Dios, jefe—good morning, boss—and sometimes Chinga tu madre, pendejo, an insult in Spanish suggesting that I sexually assault my mother and labeling me with a two syllable noun beginning with the letter A, a synonym for rectum—affable fellows, huh?

Other than responding with similar epithets, my only recourse was to alert the Border Patrol and US Customs agents, but the smugglers were always out of the river and gone with their load long before the agents arrived on the scene. The agents were not at fault—they arrived as quickly as possible—our border with Mexico is 2,000 miles of wilderness, and smugglers and illegal aliens far outnumber our federal agents. Our agents number in the thousands while the illegals number in the millions, both then and now.

Now for a brief tip for Bill O’Reilly of Fox News fame: It is useless to send the military to guard the border, useless even if they joined hands and lined up from Brownsville, Texas to San Ysidro, California. It’s useless even if the Mexican military formed a similar line on the Mexican side from the city of Matamoras in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico to the city of Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja California Norte.

And why, you may ask, would it be useless? It’s useless because the smugglers of people and contraband seek wealth and the people that are smuggled seek employment. They will go over, or under, or through or around any obstacle placed in their path. It’s trite but it’s true—build a 50-foot fence and the illegals will build a 51-foot ladder.

Only two actions can stem the flood of illegal entries:

Deny illegal employment by penalizing the employer—if they can’t work they won’t come. Eliminate the profits to be gained by legalizing the drugs that are smuggled—if they can’t make a profit they won’t smuggle. Will that increase the presence of illegal drugs? In what way? They are already available on every street corner and neighborhood and school in this country, available to everyone from the very young to the very old.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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